Iowa hosts Iowa State Saturday night in Kinnick Stadium for another chapter of the CyHawk Series between the Hawkeyes and Cyclones. Kirk Ferentz and Iowa left Ames in last year's game with a 31-17 due to a late-game touchdown pass from C.J. Beathard to Riley McCarron and a clutch interception towards the finish from cornerback Desmond King.
The Hawkeyes are 15 point favorites right now over Iowa State entering the matchup and are ranked #10 in the USA Today Coaches Poll and #16 in the AP Poll.
Iowa were winners a week ago over Miami (OH) in their season opener 45-21 while Iowa State was defeated by FCS program Northern Iowa.
KEYS TO THE GAME
1) CONTROL THE TRENCHES - It's fairly well-known that Iowa State is inexperienced on both the offensive and defensive lines. Iowa's offensive line had some issues last Saturday, but were solid for the most part. Iowa's defensive line had a standout in Anthony Nelson, but that was about it for the defensive line. Iowa needs to control the trenches in this one.
2) KEEP LAZARD IN CHECK - Allen Lazard has the potential to really burn the Hawkeyes on Saturday night. He'll have Desmond King following him all around the field, so it might be difficult for him. King is a shutdown corner, but may need some help at times with the much larger Lazard.
3) WIN THE TURNOVER BATTLE - I know, I know, it sounds obvious, but Joel Lanning is likely going to turn the ball over 1-2 times during the game. Iowa does a great job of taking care of the ball, so if they do what they usually do, they should win the turnover battle. That will go a long way in determining who wins the game.
1) WIN THE RUN GAME - Iowa's bread and butter is their rushing attack. It always has been and it was on full display again a week ago. Iowa State struggled to run the ball against Northern Iowa despite having a talent in Mike Warren. They just don't have the offensive line for it. Iowa did struggle defending the run against Miami (OH) last week. If they find themselves and get a push up front from their defensive tackles, this is an area where they win and should determine the outcome of the game. They need some separation here.
2) TAKE CARE OF THE BALL - Rivalries are often decided by turnovers. And though Iowa does not need to force turnovers to win this game, the way to lose it is coughing the ball up themselves. If they play a clean game offensively, Iowa State can't win. They don't have the personnel or talent to do so.
3) NO CHUNK PLAYS - Miami (OH) had a few explosive plays on offense against Iowa and that was the chief factor they scored as many points as they did. That's not acceptable for Iowa, especially with the style of defense that they employ. They can give up yards in their bend-but-don't break ways but the chunk yardage allows other teams to overcome that. They have to stick to who they are and force field goals and not touchdowns. Giving up the big plays is a way to keep Iowa State in this one as they likely will struggle to sustain drives with their less than stellar offensive line.
DYLAN: The Hawkeyes have lost three of the last five matchups with the in-state Cyclones. It doesn't really matter who is favored when the two meet up. Iowa is the early favorite by a couple of touchdowns.
Iowa had the running game going early on in week one and C.J. Beathard was solid through the air. The defense struggled a tad with a surprisingly solid Miami (OH) team. Iowa is facing a fairly inexperienced Iowa State team, especially in the trenches. I think Iowa makes it 2-0 on the year with a 30-17 victory over Iowa State.
DEREK: Teams improve the most from week one to week two, and for the Hawkeyes, they're going to need that one the defensive side of the ball. Iowa State struggled a week ago against Northern Iowa offensively but it's fair to expect some improvement from them as well. They're going to try to establish their rushing attack early and often. If Iowa's front 7 is up to the task, the Cyclones could be in for a long game. Through the air, Desmond King is expected to shadow Allen Lazard but I think you only see a variation of this. I doubt it's full-time.
Iowa State should be able to limit the Hawkeye offense more than Miami (OH) did a week ago. Iowa State may not be up to par offensively but their defense could be. It will hurt that they will be without defensive back Nigel Tribune. In addition, defensive tackle Demond Tucker is also dinged up. I think this is the game where you see Beathard's mobility make an appearance and extend drives.
I think Iowa wins both sides of the ball. Most of the time, this is a close game. I think it will be for a half until the Hawkeyes pull away in the second half. Iowa takes down the Cyclones in Kinnick 34-13.
HAWK TO ROCK
DYLAN: C.J. Beathard. Aaron Bailey had a field day last week against the Iowa State defense. Bailey is a better athlete than Beathard, but C.J. is still capable of getting outside the pocket and making plays with his legs. C.J. is also a better pocket QB and game manager. I think Beathard goes 16-23 with 215 yards passing and two touchdowns to go along with 60-plus yards on the ground.
DEREK: Offensively, I agree with the C.J. Beathard pick. He was a difference maker in this game a year ago and I believe he will be again. I think he is more impactful with his legs than his arm in this game. It extends drives, gives time for his receivers to break free, and and gives the offense a jolt. I do like Akrum Wadley but I have a feeling this is the game for LeShun Daniels on the ground more so than Akrum Wadley. But Beathard is the pick because of what he does with his legs.
Defensively, I'll roll with Josey Jewell with honorable mention to Greg Mabin, Jaleel Johnson, and Nathan Bazata. I think Jewell's presence allows the Hawkeye defense to limit the Iowa State run game and causes them to be stuck in neutral on offense for the most part. It'll also be a game where Jaleel Johnson and Nathan Bazata finally get that push up the middle to stifle the Cyclone rushing attack. This will be a big day for the run defense and Jewell will unload in this department, especially since this is basically game one for him and he will be anxious to leave his mark. I think Iowa State, like everyone else, will also try to challenge Greg Mabin. Unlike last week, he's up for it this week and puts together an impressive performance.